When I was first sworn in as a Member of the House of Assembly I was naive. When I retired 25 years later, after winning five terms in office, I was stunned and shocked at the way our Government was run and how the people reacted.
I was reminded of hundreds of years ago, when the Indians owned Manhattan, the Settlers arrived, offered the Indians some rum, shining beads and a pittance in cash and became the owners of Manhattan, now the financial centre of the world.
During my first term in Office, I mentioned that the building of one of the Crystal Palace Towers on the beach at Cable Beach would cause erosion. The then Government laughed at me and assured me not to worry, that the investors had guaranteed them that studies had been done (which the investor paid for) and in addition to that had put one million dollars in escrow in case they were wrong. Well, they were wrong. The beach is no more. Just before I retired, I inquired as to why the million dollars hadn’t been spent on restoring the beach. The answer was a question: “What million?”
The beach, as we knew it, is gone, the money has either gone or never existed, the man behind the Crystal Palace is dead, and the Members of the House of Assembly who made the decision are, for the most part, dead.
The only ones left are the grandchildren, left to wallow in their grandfather’s folly and mess. Jobless. A flash in the pan that, for all intents and purposes has gone belly up!
Now let’s fast forward to another “flash in the pan.” Ginn, in Western Grand Bahama. We sat in the House for hours, completely mesmerized at the presentation. Beautiful drawings were shown. A new City that would make most in the United States look anemic. The development was mind-boggling!! This was it. It was going to be big enough to employ all of Grand Bahama.
The bulldozers moved in, clearing acres of land, pushing down all that was in front of them. Most of the land became balder than me. And then they ran out of money and the development crumbled, and people left. I drove there to see the place I once knew as West End. The experience was eerie. The people had gone; the land was bald, the cars and equipment were just parked there. Not a dog barked. Not a chicken crowed.
But, they say, we should forgive that. After all, we needed the foreign currency, and a fast talking investor came and obviously drank cocktails with the right people, presented us with some beautiful sketches and repeated what the settlers did to the Indians many moons ago. We haven’t changed. We only dress differently.
And then came Albany. Another multi-multi million dollar development, where the land was gotten cheap, one person got access to put a marina on private land after the beach had been breached, and most of the multi-multi million dollars to be spent on the project never reached this land. But that’s development, they say. Some contractors made some money. That’s fine. Some real estate sellers got some money for the original sale of cheap land. That too is good. But how much of that multi-multi million dollars really came to the Bahamas? Not much. Have we lost more than we received? Yes, but that’s all right, they say. We got a little foreign currency out of the deal. Although most maids are either Haitian or Filipinos we are told that a lot of jobs will be created for Bahamian maids who don’t exist.
What has happened to the beach, the historic sites which properly developed and marketed could help our income forever? They’re destroyed. But that’s all right, they say. Our leaders seem to be knee jerkers who fail to see beyond their noses. Some say they are carpetbaggers, others call them crooks. Some, however, say they are angels sent from Heaven to save us fools!!!
The latest flash in the pan is Baha Mar. It offers everything, even 10,000 Bahamian jobs. They don’t say what the jobs will be but the number 10,000 sounds good so why not spit it out. Although you can shoot a canon off in the hallways of most hotels on the Cable Beach strip and not hit a fly, the Baha Mar organization is going to build six more hotels. Sounds good but nobody’s told us yet what strategy will be used to fill them.
But the story sounds good and the pictures are pretty. They figure, that’s enough to keep us Bahamian fools happy. Now the money sharks smell the blood and they are in a frenzy and anything goes. Question time is over. Money time is here.
Now just let’s wait one minute. Let’s be bold for once and dare ask some questions. Is this new group an arm of the Chinese Government? Yes, they are. Who holds the mortgage for all this land? The Chinese government. What happens if the project is designed to or does in fact go belly up? Whoever holds the mortgage forecloses and then owns the land. Does that mean the Chinese Government? Yes, they hold the mortgage and will, therefore, own the land.
Let’s think about that and ask a few more questions. Is this land now or potentially could be a large part of that which runs the Bahamian economic engine? Yes, this land is one of the most, if not the most, valuable pieces of land that runs the economic engine of the Bahamas. Does that mean, therefore, that a foreign country potentially owns and controls the major part of our economy? Yes, this is what I¹m telling you.
Let’s let that sink in, and then ask a few more questions. Is it correct that China is a Communist country? Yes they are. So would you be correct in understanding that we will be turning over a large portion of our economic engine to a foreign country, a communist foreign country? You are correct. Man, you got to be joking. I know the government is fool, but they can’t be that fool!!
Yes folks, that’s it. We have now gone full circle. In the late sixties our leaders were shouting for independence. We had to get rid of the foreign, English shackles. We must be masters of our own fate! Yes sir, we were big, bad and ugly!
Now it is 2010 and we’re giving a large part of our economic engine … our decision making … away to a foreign country, a Communist one at that.
We cry at funerals. I shed a tear for my country. We have lost our senses. General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: “A people who put their privileges ahead of their principles, soon lose both.”
By the way, while going to work I drive through Village Road. Recently, somewhere in the vicinity of the Bahamas National Trust, I have smelled the high scent of a dead rat. I advise that the Prime Minister have this investigated and have the relevant Ministry clear it up.
By Pierre V.L. Dupuch
September 17, 2010